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Happy Feast of Saint John Paul II

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Happy Feast of Saint John Paul II

HAPPY FEAST OF SAINT POPE JOHN PAUL II

St. Pope John Paul II, original name Karol Józef Wojtyła, was born on May 18, 1920, Wadowice, Poland, died on April 2, 2005, Vatican City; beatified on May 1, 2011; canonized on April 27, 2014; and whose feast day we celebrate on October 22. He was the first globally oriented Pope who had completed 95 pastoral visits outside of Italy and 142 within Italy, visited 301 of the 334 parishes and served Holy Mother the Church as the Bishop of Rome for 27years from 1978 to 2005.

On May 13, 1981, St. Pope John Paul II was shot in the abdomen and nearly killed by a 23-year-old Turkish man, Mehmet Ali Agca. He later publicly forgave his would-be assassin, who had shot him on the feast day of Our Lady of Fátima. He believed that the Virgin had saved his life by guiding the bullet away from vital organs; in May 2000 the Vatican announced that the mysterious third message the Virgin gave the peasant children in Fátima, Portugal, in 1917 was a vision of the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. He made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin in Fatima on the first anniversary of the assassination attempt, but, during a ceremony in which he consecrated the modern world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Besides taking part in Vatican Council II with an important contribution to the elaboration of the Constitution ‘Gaudium et spes,’ Cardinal Wojtyla participated in all the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops. His principal documents include 14 encyclicals, 13 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions and 42 apostolic letters. The Pope has also published three books: “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” (October 1994); “Gift and Mystery: On the 50th Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination” (November 1996) and “Roman Tryptych – Meditations”, a book of poems (March 2003).

John Paul II has presided at 138 beatification ceremonies (1,310 blessed proclaimed) and 48 canonization ceremonies (469 Saints) during his pontificate. He has held 8 consistories in which he created 201 cardinals. He has also convened six plenary meetings of the College of Cardinals. From 1978 to today the Holy Father has presided at 15 Synods of Bishops: six ordinary (1980, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994, 2001), one extraordinary (1985) and eight special (1980, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998 and 1999).

The Holy See has always acknowledged the importance of India, both in global and Asian terms. Connections between the Catholic Church and India can be traced back to the apostle St. Thomas, who, according to tradition, came to India in 52 AD. There have been three Papal visits to India so far. The first Pope to visit India was Pope Paul VI, who visited Mumbai in 1964 to attend the International Eucharistic Congress. St. Pope John Paul II visited India in February 1986 during which he visited different parts of India, including Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata and met with the Indian leadership.

He visited Mother Teresa at Nirmal Hridaya Ashram, the home for the dying, the first ashram opened by Mother in Kalighat, Kolkata on February 3, 1986 during his first visit to India. Speaking of his visit, Mother Teresa called it “the happiest day of my life.” People of all faiths lined the 10 km route from Dum Dum to the Nirmal Hridaya to welcome St. Pope John Paul II, waiting for a blessing from him. For the people of Kolkata the visit showed that the Pope’s first concern was the poor, the dying, and the suffering. With this act of love, compassion and kindness, he won the hearts of the people. The Pope called it a sacred place where “the mystery of human suffering encounters the mystery of faith and love.”

St. Pope John Paul II again visited India on a State visit from 5th to 7th November, 1999. He met with the then President Shri K.R. Narayanan, Vice President Shri Krishan Kant and Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee. During the visit, he presided over the concluding celebrations of the special assembly of Synod of Bishops of Asia and he signed and released the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. New Delhi was specially chosen by the Pope to hold this Special Concluding celebration. He preached to the world his messages of religious freedom, national independence, and human rights. 

No other Pope has encountered so many individuals like John Paul II: to date, more than 16,700,000 pilgrims have participated in the General Audiences held on Wednesdays (more than 1,000). Such a figure is without counting all other special audiences and religious ceremonies held (more than 8 million pilgrims during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 alone) and the millions of faithful met during pastoral visits made in Italy and throughout the world. It must also be remembered the numerous government personalities encountered during 38 official visits and in the 690 audiences and meetings held with Heads of State, and even the 226 audiences and meetings with Prime Ministers.

From the start of his pontificate, St. Pope John Paul II undertook numerous trips abroad travelling far greater distances than had all other popes combined to promote greater understanding among nations and among religions. He extended his influence beyond the church by campaigning against political oppression and criticizing the materialism of the West. He generally used his influence among Catholics and throughout the world to advance the recognition of human dignity in an area of human life in which priests as well as laity must be involved; and to discourage the use of violence that fueled by the logic of supremacy, by the desire to dominate and exploit others, by ideologies of power or totalitarian utopias, by crazed nationalisms or ancient tribal hatreds. 

The superior and demanding task of peace is deeply rooted in humanity’s vocation to be one family must exist. It is no longer the well-being of any one political, racial, or cultural community that must prevail, but rather the good of humanity as a whole must succeed. A complete change of perspective is needed both inside and outside of the Church to enable humanity to become a single human family built on the values of justice, equity, and solidarity. Peace is a need deeply rooted in the heart of every man and woman. The will to seek peace must not therefore be allowed to weaken. For only in peace and through peace can respect for human dignity and its inalienable rights be guaranteed. There is no true peace without fairness, truth, justice, and solidarity.

Some Quotes of Saint Pope John Paul II:

  1. The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.
  2. As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.
  3. To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others.
  4. From now on it is only through a conscious choice and through a deliberate policy that humanity can survive.
  5. The vow of celibacy is a matter of keeping one’s word to Christ and the Church. a duty and a proof of the priest’s inner maturity; it is the expression of his personal dignity.

+ In Christ, 

Father Henry Peter MSFS,

Sacred Heart Church, Bhusawal, Maharashtra, India.

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